Sunday, Jan 01 2012 11:00 PM

HITS & MISSES: Remembering another soldier who sacrificed

By The Bakersfield Californian

HIT: About 200 people turned out to Meadows Field Airport last week to greet a plane carrying the casket of U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher Muniz. Muniz, of New Cuyama, died alongside a fellow soldier in an improvised bomb explosion in Afghanistan on Dec. 11. Following the plane's arrival in Bakersfield, a procession of motorcycles escorted the casket to a local mortuary. Local vets deserve a cheer for organizing the ride.

We further honor men like Muniz by committing ourselves to their protection on and off the battlefield. We honor them by providing them with the best offensive and defensive equipment possible; by directing all necessary resources to medical aftercare, including treatment of concussion-type injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder; and by withholding troops from foreign interventions except when absolutely necessary and all other possible recourses have proven unsuccessful.

HIT: Funding for innovative air projects

Technological advances in pollution control are needed to help the San Joaquin Valley clean its air -- and the regional air district is helping that effort with $3 million to fund 12 innovative local projects. The projects range from new pollution controls for diesel trucks and trains to low-emissions composting and manure-to-energy projects. All projects will be tested in valley locations. Bakersfield's Bidart Diary will test a project that can collect methane and use it to power an electric generator. New solutions are needed to fix our severe air quality problem. Here's hoping these projects yield some practical advances.

MISS: Small-town PDs, part three

The past few months have not been good for small-town police departments in Kern County. The city of Arvin now joins the list, which includes the McFarland and Maricopa police agencies. Fourteen of Arvin's 18 police officers signed a letter calling for the ouster of their police chief last week. The officers say the chief has implemented policies that jeopardize public safety and has refused to appropriately tackle gang and drug problems. The Arvin City Council is taking the issue seriously and trying to determine if the situation stems from management style or more serious matters. Given the scale of discontent in the department, the council is right to investigate the matter.

MISS: Trouble at East Hills Mall

Here's hoping 2012 is the year that East Hills Mall finally turns a corner. The mall's lender officially foreclosed on the property last week, raising questions about the property's future. East Hills can be a vibrant commercial center with the right renovations, management and retail offerings in place. But does anyone have a cogent plan?

HIT: Clay's own street; our privilege

We salute this decision: Main Plaza Drive between Rosedale Highway and Hageman Road will be renamed Clay Patrick Farr Way in memory of Centennial High School graduate Clay Patrick Farr, a U.S. Army scout who was killed Feb. 26, 2006, while serving in Iraq.

Farr's childhood home backed up to the street. He had asked his parents to fly an American flag in their backyard, visible to cars passing on Main Plaza Drive, when he enlisted in the Army. The renaming of that street is a touching and apt tribute to Farr's service.

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